June 2016


If you ask Jesse what his favorite crop is, he will say potatoes. Our potato production is a year round job for us. The cycle starts in March with potatoes from the previous growing season and seed stock bought in from the University of Wisconsin Seed Potato Program. These potatoes are cut into 2 oz pieces and planted. Once the potatoes are in the ground, Jesse spends many hours hilling, cultivating and irrigating the potato fields throughout the spring and summer. Earlier this week, Jesse came back from irrigating the potatoes in our field in Arena, near the Wisconsin River, with pictures of the potatoes flowering! We grow 18 varieties of potatoes and they all put off slightly differently blooms, some don’t flower at all. The colors range from white to blue to pink.

We begin harvesting new potatoes in late July or early August. The main harvest takes place throughout September. This is when we will harvest over 200,000 lbs of potatoes, the yield can vary greatly depending on many factors. The harvested potatoes will be distributed to our CSA members both in this harvest year and into 2017. We store our potatoes in a temperature and humidity controlled cooler for over 8 months.

In addition to our CSA, we also produce potatoes for seed. We sell our seed to other farmers to plant for their own production. Most of our customers are in the Midwest but we have growers from New England, the Northwest, the Southeast and Southwest. Our potatoes are certified organic and certified disease free.

Once the growing season is over, Jesse and I begin the seed potato marketing season. We exhibit at farming conferences and Jesse’s phone doesn’t stop ringing for two months straight. We manage to fit a few vacations in between the frenzy, then we begin the process all over again in the spring. Despite all of the potato-related business, our potatoes remain one of Jesse’s favorite vegetables to eat and he still gets excited about the flowers.

Jonnah

Jonnah and Jesse selling seed at the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service conference (MOSES). This is the largest organic conference in the country and it is held in LaCrosse WI.

Jonnah and Jesse selling seed at the Midwest Organic Sustainable Education Service conference (MOSES). This is the largest organic conference in the country and it is held in LaCrosse WI.

Tonny, Rancy, and Phearo cutting potatoes into pieces to be planted.

Tonny, Rancy, and Phearo cutting potatoes into pieces to be planted.

Planting potato seed pieces in our Arena field.

Planting potato seed pieces in our Arena field.

Beautifully cultivated rows of potatoes - Jesse drives an implement through the rows that irradiates weeds.

Beautiful rows of potatoes.

A field of flowering potatoes in our valley - this is where we will harvest the new potatoes in about a month.

A field of flowering potatoes in our valley.

Busy sums it up. Yes, we are always busy, but there is a unique business about June. When June ends we sit back, or fall back, and say what hit? The answer is always June. Everything that happens on this farm, needs to be done in June. Greenhouse planting, which starts in March and is still going in June; transplanting which starts in April and is still going in June; field tillage and lots of cultivating; cutting hay and bailing it for mulch; mulching beds so we can transplant; putting miles of row cover on plants to protect them from the insects and taking it off when the plants set blossoms; setting up irrigation in all of the beds where we transplant; harvest began June 6; trellising the tomatoes begins in April in the hoophouse and hits full stride in the fields in June; trellising peas, done; oodles and oodles of packing shed work. Our office manager, Jonnah, works overtime organizing the deliveries, helping members get signed up, answering lots of questions and helping in the fields if she can. Once we make it through June we can breathe a bit easier and wait for August, which somehow seems to ramp back up again. But hey, we love it. Why else would we do it? Then Monday afternoon added a new twist. We spent a few hours with a film crew from Wisconsin Public Television. They were here to film us for a story to be featured on Around the Farm Table in the fall (we’ll let you know when). Kind of fun to squeeze in one more thing in June.

Barb

Barb and David all set to be filmed for Around the Farm Table. Take One; Take Two. That’s all we had to do. He said we were great. We like talking about our farm.

Barb and David all set to be filmed for Around the Farm Table. Take One; Take Two. That’s all we had to do. He said we were great. We like talking about our farm.

The real star of the show will be Jesse. The story is about potatoes and he knows everything there is to know about potatoes.

The real star of the show will be Jesse. The story is about potatoes and he knows everything there is to know about potatoes.

Harvesting Peas, over 1000 pounds of them so far this week. We are so pleased, maybe the nicest peas we have had on this farm. You will love them.

Harvesting Peas, over 1000 pounds of them so far this week. We are so pleased, maybe the nicest peas we have had on this farm. You will love them.

Mother and son, Ryna and Phearo, harvesting together.

Mother and son, Ryna and Phearo, harvesting together.

Jonnah and Becca transplanting sweet corn. This is the sixth sweet corn planting of the season. That means you will get sweet corn week after week once it ripens. If you look through the orange bars of the racks, you can see several plantings at different maturity levels.

Jonnah and Becca transplanting sweet corn. This is the sixth sweet corn planting of the season. That means you will get sweet corn week after week once it ripens. If you look through the orange bars of the racks, you can see several plantings at different maturity levels.

Becky and Georgia bagging peas.

Becky and Georgia bagging peas.

Sophal, Ryna, Rancy and Phearo banding garlic scapes.

Sophal, Ryna, Rancy and Phearo banding garlic scapes.

When you go to work outside every day, it’s understood and expected that every day will be a bit different, weather-wise. But…I did not expect to wake up Wednesday morning to see that our entire wetland had become a lake and the road to our field was now a river. I grabbed my tea and drove up the road expecting to see the water over the bridge, but instead I saw that the wetland was channeling water over Hwy F and up Cedar Hill Lane. I stood there watching water rushing over the road, not sure how deep it was.  As I stood there in total awe, our Cambodian crew came driving up the road on their way to work and without hesitation drove through the river. I watched their van, filled with eight people get pushed sideways with the force of the water but they made it. Then we all stood there looking at the phenomena. I talked with the neighbor, who was born and raised here, and he had never seen this happen. The county came and officially closed the road sometime mid-morning. We needed to get through to harvest broccoli. We waited until after lunch. The water had receded enough to see the lines in the road, so we knew the road wasn’t washed out. And then off to harvest broccoli.

Our fields were not negatively affected by the 3.5 inches of rain. Yes, they were very wet, but there was no standing water except in a small area of one field. I love our wetland. The water knows to go there. And the wetland knows what to do with it. As I write this exactly 24 hours later, the water has totally receded. No more lake or river. It was pretty exciting. Not just another day on the farm.

Barb

The water is flowing over Hwy F and using Cedar Hill Lane as a river route. Cedar Hill is the road we drive down to access 13 acres of vegetable fields. It’s the road you drive down to go to the Pumpkin Pick.

The water is flowing over Hwy F and using Cedar Hill Lane as a river route. Cedar Hill is the road we drive down to access 13 acres of vegetable fields. It’s the road you drive down to go to the Pumpkin Pick.

This is our marsh which never has standing water. Yesterday it looked like Lake Vermont.

This is our marsh which never has standing water. Yesterday it looked like Lake Vermont.

Peeking at the new Lake Vermont from the greenhouse.

Peeking at the new Lake Vermont from the greenhouse.

On the way to harvest broccoli.

On the way to harvest broccoli.

The broccoli fields were high and dry.

The broccoli fields were high and dry.

Lettuce head harvest on Tuesday, before the rains.

Lettuce head harvest on Tuesday, before the rains.

Scallion harvest. Notice the fence, it’s to keep deer out of the lettuce.

Scallion harvest. Notice the fence, it’s to keep deer out of the lettuce.

The first delivery of the 2016 season is exciting. We’ve been planning, planting and working towards this day since last fall! The fields are growing lush with a wide variety of vegetables. Quite a beautiful tapestry. The weather has been a bit like a bouncing ball, kind of all over the place, but we have learned to roll with it. Irrigate when we need to, plant when the conditions are good, and always watch the weather forecast and radar. All of the food is brought to you by a wonderful and dedicated crew of people. We have a combination of Perkins family, 6 of us; our dedicated seasonal Cambodian crew, 10 of them; our full time farm crew, 5 of them; and worker shares who put in four hours a week; 28 of them.

This week was varied as we harvested vegetables, transplanted, washed vegetables, weeded, bagged and banded vegetables, started seeds in the greenhouse, took floating row cover off 1000’s of row feet of squash and put it onto freshly planted cucumbers and melons (in the effort to keep hungry insects from eating your food). The week culminates this morning when 7 of us will pack your shares, load them into delivery trucks and bring them to you. What a great week.

Thanks for your support! Enjoy your first share!

Barb

Thursday morning packing line crew, each of us holding the item we placed into the share box. (sitting) Abby, Becca, Georgia, J-Mo, (standing)Barb Ken , Tom

Thursday morning packing line crew, each of us holding the item we placed into the share box. (sitting) Abby, Becca, Georgia, J-Mo, (standing)Barb, Ken , Tom

Early morning salad mix harvest. Thanks for the big smile, Tonny.

Early morning salad mix harvest. Thanks for the big smile, Tonny.

Rhubarb harvest, featuring Matt and Vicki, two worker shares. We were hard at this harvest for 4 hours and we kept adding people to the crew as they became freed up from other tasks, until there were 16 of us.

Rhubarb harvest, featuring Matt and Vicki, two worker shares. We were hard at this harvest for 4 hours and we kept adding people to the crew as they became freed up from other tasks, until there were 16 of us.

Eric and Tom riding the transplanter and laying out the pepper plants.

Eric and Tom riding the transplanter and laying out the pepper plants.

Rith and Pharo planting peppers two weeks ago.

Rith and Pharo planting peppers two weeks ago.